When your brother ticked you off?
When you missed an appointment?
When your budget shrunk?
|Empty Handed, a photo by kelsey_lovefusionphoto on Flickr.|
No matter how hard I try, I can't make myself be perfect. I study my devotions and feel all holy for a few minutes every morning, when the golden sun drenches the back fields and tiny birds hopping among the tufts of grass, and I take a deep breath and feel inspired. Now I'm filled with the Spirit. Now I'm ready to be like Christ.
And then the day hits me at full speed, slamming into my good resolutions and flying by without even stopping to exchange insurance. My Christlike attitude disintegrates in a whirl of metal and rubber and I'm left in a disappointed heap. Well, better luck tomorrow.
But the next day is always the same. What it comes down to is that I can't make my flesh look like Christ. I identify so strongly with what Paul writes in Romans 7:14-15, "...I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate."
So what is the solution?
Lately I have been studying grace. It's a remarkable concept, and one that is hard—make that nearly impossible—for this legalistic perfectionist to grasp. But it is also the most beautiful thing I've ever experienced. In his fabulous devotional guide The Indwelling Life of Christ Major Ian Thomas explains that the only way to be like Christ is by identification, dying and resurrecting with Him. To paraphrase Paul, "I am a redeemed sinner, and the risen Christ has come to reinvade my humanity so that He can serve with my hands, walk with my feet, speak with my lips, see with my eyes, hear with my ears, think with my mind, and love with my heart, so that to me, to live now is Christ."
I have to let Christ be Christ in me. But how?
By letting go. By letting go of my own agenda, my own ambitions, my own life, laying it all down to God.
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
- Galatians 2:20Control is our natural wish. We want our way on our terms, but that just isn't how Christ works. He's willing to give us the world, but we have to give Him ourselves, totally and entirely. As long as I'm standing in the way, how can Jesus have His way in me?
Major Thomas asks these hard-hitting questions in his devotional. How will you answer them?
- How are you allowing the Lord Jesus to serve with your hands?
- How can you allow Him to walk with your feet?
- How can you allow Him to speak with your lips?
- How can you allow Him to see with your eyes?
- How can you allow Him to hear with your ears?
- How can you allow Him to think with your mind?
- How can you allow Him to love with your heart?